Apple invests $850M in California solar farm, expands use of renewable energy

solar farmOn Tuesday, Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook announced an $850 million investment that will see the company build a solar farm in California –big enough to supply power to all of Apple’s California facilities along with many others.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Cook called it Apple’s “biggest, boldest and most ambitious project ever.”

The 1,300-acre solar farm will be constructed in Monterey County in California in partnership with First Solar, Inc. The site will produce enough renewable energy to supply Apple’s new Silicon Valley campus, two other offices it has in the state, its data center and all 52 of Apple’s California retail stores. In addition to supplying Apple, the site will also deliver electricity to around 60,000 California homes.

“We are doing this because it’s right to do, but you may also be interested to know that it’s good financially to do it,” Cook told investors at the conference. “We expect to have a very significant savings, because we have a fixed price for the renewable energy, and there’s quite a difference between that price and the price of brown energy.”

In a press release from First Solar, the company announced that Apple’s 1,300-acre share of the 2,900-acre facility will deliver electricity from 130 megawatts to Apple’s facilities under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

“Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Joe Kishkill, Chief Commercial Officer for First Solar. “Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California.”

Renewable energy is not new territory for Apple. The company uses green energy in a number of its data centers. Most notably, Apple’s facilities in Oregon get power from a hydroelectric plant and wind energy, wind energy powers its California data center and in sunny Nevada, the company uses solar and geothermal energy.

In addition, Apple owns the biggest private solar farm in the U.S., which powers its data center in Maiden, N.C.

Last week Apple announced a $2 billion investment to convert the failed Arizona sapphire factory into a data center powered entirely by renewable energy.

Construction is slated to start mid-2015, and to be finished by the end of 2016.

photo credit: Mityaevo Solar Park via photopin (license)